Pre-rut conditions are here in South Carolina, Arkansas, and Georgia. Hunters in these states are reporting numerous scrapes and rubs. If you’re not seeing scrapes and rubs, your area doesn’t have bucks.
Many factors go into analyzing a scrape, and the hunter has to decide if he is likely to see a buck again at that location during hunting hours.
There have been numerous studies on scrapes, and the data indicates that most are made and visited at night. Some hunting experts will go as far as to say not to bother hunting scrapes, because they’re rarely visited during daylight. But hunters have seen and killed bucks at scrapes, so it can happen.
Bucks will make scrapes all over their woods. A buck may be walking around and browsing and stop to paw out the leaves and sniff the branch. This doesn’t mean that he will ever visit it again; he just went that way that day. Those scrapes are usually small and are not revisited.
The ones that you want to find and take an interest in are the larger ones that are visited over and over, many times by many bucks. These will have a chewed overhanging branch and will have been scraped numerous times. Sometimes called “community” scrapes, they are in well-traveled areas that are visited by a lot of deer. A good move is to put a trail camera on them to see who comes to visit.
A good time to hunt a scrape is after a rain because bucks will often come to freshen them after they’re rained on. With this being the pre-rut, bucks are more likely to visit them now than any other time. Most does are not in estrus yet, so bucks will be laying down sign and hoping to attract females and define their territory. When the frenzy of the rut begins, bucks will abandon scrapes and pursue does will rigor.
And watching a hot scrape can and will produce. Brian Jordan of Greer, South Carolina arrowed the thick-antlered 242-pound 12-pointer shown her near Bamberg, South Carolina recently early in the morning as it was working its scrape line. If you’re going to hunt over a scrape, now’s the best time.